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The Rural Stewardship Scheme 2005


The Rural Stewardship Scheme

Prescriptions for Historic and Archaeological Sites

32. Management of Sites of Archaeological or Historic Interest

Aim: To improve the condition of features or areas of historical or archaeological interest.

Eligible sites: Land containing a site of archaeological or historic interest.

Dowan's hillfort

Aerial view of Dowan's hillfort

Management Requirements:

  • The management of the site must be agreed in advance with SEERAD and may include, as appropriate, controls over grazing; the cutting and removal of trees, scrub and woody plants; the repair of erosion damage; the destruction and subsequent control of rabbits; the establishment of unploughed buffer zones; the realignment of fences or tracks; re-siting of hard standings or feeding sites; the restoration of and care for old orchard trees.


For areas containing archaeological sites revealed only by crop marks, the site, with a minimum 10 metre buffer zone beyond the visible remains, must be taken out of cropping and sown to grass. The management of the site must be agreed in advance with SEERAD. When establishing the sward, the ploughing depth must not exceed 100 mm.


  • Where a site is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM), it will be necessary for you to seek advice on management from Historic Scotland. Evidence of such consultation and that consent has been given must be submitted with the Environmental Audit. Where non-SAM sites are of a complex nature, advice should be sought from the local authority Archaeologist. Please refer to Section 5, headed "Advice?", in Part 1 of this booklet for sources of specialist advice on management of areas of historical or archaeological interest.
  • In order to bring a site into optimum condition, one or more of the following measures will usually be required:
  • Establish or alter a grazing regime - a detailed grazing plan should be prepared. The erection of permanent or temporary fencing may be necessary. Where the site is crossed by an existing fence, consideration should be given to re-siting the fence at a minimum distance of 10m from the last visible feature of the monument. If grazing is the only form of management involved, annual payments will only be applicable if there is a change in the grazing regime or the continuation of a grazing regime change introduced under an earlier scheme or initiative.
  • orchards

    Old orchards are characterised by widely-spaced standard fruit trees of old and often scarce varieties. Normally, there are less than 150 trees per hectare
    Photo: FWAG

    Appropriate erosion repair works may be undertaken, but professional archaeological advice should be sought from HS for SAMs or from local authority Archaeologists for non-SAMs.
  • Removal of trees to prevent damage from roots and/or when over-mature and in danger from windthrow. Trees must be removed in such a way that the ground surface is not disturbed. They should be cut off at ground level and stumps left in the ground to rot.
  • Removal and subsequent control of bracken, gorse, scrub or woody plants where a monument is overgrown with this vegetation. Removal should not entail ground disturbance (i.e. cut them off at ground level) and, where appropriate, cut stumps should be spot treated. If bracken eradication is part of the proposed management, the cost of the work is considered to be covered by the annual management payment, i.e. there is no additional payment for bracken control.
  • Extending the uncultivated buffer zone to 10m beyond the last visible feature of the monument where the site exists as an isolated area in a ploughed field. For the maintenance and enhancement of old orchard sites, this measure is essential.
  • Re-routing tracks and resiting hardstandings to a minimum distance of 10m from the last visible feature of the monument where these cross the monument or lie adjacent to it.
  • Destruction and subsequent control of rabbits. Methods used should not entail ground disturbance and must be viable, involving the erection of associated rabbit-proof fencing (at least 10m from the last visible feature of the monument), where appropriate. The monuments should be regularly monitored to prevent re-infestation.